The Origin of Fig Newtons

This article was written by Phineas Upham

The Nabisco Company first produced the Fig Newton in 1891. There is some speculation that the true date was 1892, but the Nabisco Company and the town of Newton disagree. Newton held a festival commemorating the centennial of the cookie in 1992. Linda Plaut of Newton’s cultural affairs board said of the cookie, “The 100th anniversary of a cookie may not be considered a milestone for the history books,” a reference to that disputed history, “but residents of Newton believe the Fig Newton’s first century is something to celebrate. Newton is an all-American city, and the Fig Newton is an all-American cookie.”

History says that James Henry Mitchell invented a machine to fill cake-like cookies with filling in 1891. His filling of choice was a jam made of figs, and the cookie was well received. So well received, in fact, that Kennedy Biscuit Works began to mass produce the cookie under the name “Newtons.”

When the National Biscuit Company bought Kennedy, they kept everything about the cookie the same for nearly 100 years.

Yet, there is another tale that persists that puts the date of Fig Newtons sometime in the early 20th century. Roser Park is said to have made his fortune from baking and producing the cookie, but there is little evidence to support the story. Nabisco maintains that it purchased the machine to make the cookie, and the rights to it in 1891 from Kennedy Biscuit Works.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

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